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Mar 19, 2021

Residential Tenancies Act Reforms 2021

New renting rules come into effect on 29 March 2021, so it’s time for every renter and rental provider (landlord) to understand the changes. Whether you’re a renter or rental provider (landlord), the new rental rules will create a fairer, safer system for all Victorians. More than 130 reforms are being introduced. These clarify the rights and responsibilities of both renters and rental providers – from before you sign a rental agreement, until after the agreement ends – and apply to all types of tenancies, including private rentals, caravan and residential parks, and rooming houses. The new laws include minimum rental property standards and allow renters to make simple modifications without seeking permission. Rental providers benefit, too, from clearer accountabilities for renters, clearer obligations, and modern regulations and processes. It is important that everyone is aware of and understands these laws. You can help us spread the word. This kit provides all the materials you need to share this information with your community and/or network. In doing so, you’ll be playing an important role in the creation of this new, fairer and safer rental system. Thank you for your involvement. Key messages New renting rules come into effect on 29 March 2021. These new rent rules will create a fairer, safer system for everyone. These new rules have been shaped by multiple public consultation processes, the last of which received more than 700 submissions.  We’re making renting easier with clearer rights and responsibilities for both renters and rental providers.  These new rules will increase protections for renters, while ensuring rental providers can effectively manage their properties. There are also new standard agreements, condition reports and forms rental providers will need to ensure they're using by 29 March. More than one in four people rent in Victoria, so it’s vitally important that they have a rental property that feels like a home. The Victorian Government is working with renters and rental providers to ensure a smooth transition to the new rules. Notable reforms include: Renters can no longer be evicted for no reason – a valid reason is required, including: a sale, change of use, or if the owner is moving back in. Rental minimum standards are changing, including renters’ rights around heating and door and window locks in the rental property. Rental providers have a duty to ensure their rental property meets the rental minimum standards including basic standards of cleanliness, security and privacy. These are the things most people would reasonably expect in a rental property - and most already have them. These apply in all new rental agreements after 29 March 2021. If a rental is not up to minimum standards, renters can request an urgent repair. Some rental minimum standards have been delayed to give rental providers more time to prepare - these include standards for window coverings, electrical safety, and energy efficient heaters. Rent can only be increased once a year. It is unlawful to discriminate against renters based on their personal attributes, such as age, race, religion or disability. Pets cannot be unreasonably refused, although renters must still ask for permission. A renter can be evicted if they are violent or threatening towards a rental provider, agent or neighbour. Renters experiencing family violence will be able to change or terminate their rental agreement and not be held liable for damages in some circumstances, by applying to VCAT. More things are now considered an urgent repair, such as a broken cooling appliance, a functioning smoke alarm, pest infestation, mould and meeting the rental minimum standards. Rental providers are responsible for conducting gas and electricity checks every two years for all new rental agreements after 29 March 2021. There is a staged requirement for rented properties to have an energy efficient heater so renters can stay warm without worrying about their electricity bills. Helping to make a rental property feel like a home Renters can make simple modifications without seeking permission, such as attaching child safety devices or replacing curtains. Other modifications that a rental provider cannot unreasonably refuse include allowing the planting of a vegetable or herb garden, painting, securing gates and installing security systems and flyscreens at the renter's own cost. Increasing accountability and benefits for renters and rental providers New processes are available so that a renter can seek the return of their bond at the end of the rental agreement without the rental provider’s agreement. If the rental property isn't structurally sound, renters can get out of the rental agreement. Rental providers cannot ask for or accept more than one month’s rent as a bond, or require renters to pay more than one month’s rent in advance, for properties with a rent of $900 per week or less. When a renter pays back overdue rent within 14 days, any notice to vacate issued by the rental provider for that overdue rent is invalidated (the first four times this happens in a year). Rental providers or their agents cannot request inappropriate information in a rental application – for example, the renter’s bond history. Rental providers cannot encourage someone to enter a rental agreement by misleading or deceptive conduct or statements, and a rental property can only be offered at a fixed price. The full list of rental reforms is available at consumer.vic.gov.au/rentrules For any other information on this, please feel free to contact our friendly team on 59863000

Aug 8, 2020

Book Review: The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson

Simple daily disciplines repeated consistently over time = The Slight Edge. Scott's Thoughts: I've read this book twice this year and it's turning into an all-time favourite. It is very similar to The Compound Effect and Atomic Habits and I expect you will find each of them complement and expand on The Slight Edge. Olson delivers the effects of time compounding in a very easy and simple manner. 6 Key Takeaways: 1% improvement each day = 365% in 1 year. “Any time you see what looks like a breakthrough, it is always the end result of a long series of little things, done consistently over time.” Philosophy: Plant, Cultivate, Harvest (I.e hard word over time = reaping the rewards). “The journey starts with a single step — not with thinking about taking a step.” 95% of the people live a mediocre life; be part of the 5% " Successful people do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do - even when it doesn't look like it makes any difference" (p.130). Little daily actions are easy to do, but also easy not to do. (Compounding effect can go both ways, lots of bad habits over time create large problems). "Do the thing, and you shall have the power" (p.21, quoting Ralph Waldo Emerson). Results are invisible in the beginning. Little actions seem insignificant but they add up. Power is in the length of time. "The secret of time is simply this: time is the force that magnifies those little, almost imperceptible, seemingly insignificant things you do every day into something titanic and unstoppable" (p.65). Show up, show consistently, commit for the long haul. "Looking for the positive side of every challenge can become a habit, and so can finding the cloud in every silver lining" (p.218). Who's it for: You're struggling to find the motivation to start new habits or stop any bad habits. You want to learn more about what it takes to be successful and what makes the difference. You struggle with procrastination You're interested in personal development. KISS Summary: Show up. Show up consistently. Show up consistently with a positive outlook. Be prepared for and committed to the long haul. Cultivate a burning desire backed by faith. Be willing to pay the price. And do the things you've committed to doing - even when no one else is watching.

May 8, 2020

Households Shore up Finances

Households are saving money by being frugal during lockdown, suggests figures from the Commonwealth Bank. Most households have the same income as before but greatly reduced expenditure, giving them the opportunity to add to savings and pay off debt. Banks are still lending and a significant number of households are also better off because of stimulus payments. Based on the bank’s credit and debit card transactions, overall spending for the week ended April 17 was 18% lower than a year ago. But the fall was not matched in wages and salaries which decreased by only 6.7% between March 14 and April 4, shows ABS figures. Since the start of the pandemic, banks have provided $45 billion in new loans to businesses, including nearly $8.5 billion to 23,000 small businesses, and another $6 billion in extended credit. Unemployment benefits, renamed from Newstart Allowance to JobSeeker Payment, have been doubled, to $565.70 for a single person with no dependants. The JobKeeper payment of $1500 a fortnight will come into effect in May.

May 8, 2020

Buyer Searches Rise Across Nation

Home buyer interest is up almost 50% on this time last year, according to property search data from realestate.com.au. Compared to April 2019, the number of people searching for a home NSW is 39% higher. In Victoria it is 40% greater, in Queensland it has lifted 33% and in South Australia it is up 40%. Prospective buyers have adapted smoothly to the new digitised ways of doing business as they continue to search for their new home. With in-person auctions being banned, open home inspections have been changed to private viewings, resulting in a huge increase in digital inspections and also private treaties. Some agents claim as many as 80% of their purchases are now off-market properties. Prospective buyers have viewed 3.16 million digital inspections since March 30, with a 325% increase in views of 3D tours since the first week of March. “There is still a healthy amount of people with an appetite for buying real estate,” says Thomas McGlynn, national head of sales at The Agency.

Feb 29, 2020

Revival Sparks Sales Spike

National developer Stockland has recorded a 60% increase in new housing sales in the last three months of 2019, with residential property and retirement living expected to continue to deliver strong results. The housing market has rebounded since July making Stockland’s results consistent with other market measures – new loan commitments have increased on the back of interest rate cuts, house prices in most major cities are rising and first-home buyers are finding their way into the market. Stockland chief executive Mark Steinert says the group has a large pipeline of active projects with over 4,200 contracts on hand. “We have indicated in this release that in FY2021 we expect a significant lift in settlement volumes to over 5,800, which is moving up towards the top of the cyclical range that we’ve seen historically,” Steinert says. According to Jones Lang LaSalle, the outlook for the apartment markets in Sydney, Perth and Canberra is promising and though buyer confidence has rebounded in Melbourne, inner city apartment development remains challenging.

Feb 27, 2020

Renovations Hit Record Levels

Cheaper finance and fewer property listings are behind the growing trend of home renovations, says REA Group chief economist Nerida Conisbee. Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows Queensland councils have approved the highest number of alterations and additions to homes during the six months to the end of December. Around $930 million in major residential renovations work was approved in Queensland, $80 million more than in the same period the previous year. “It doesn’t surprise me,” says Conisbee. “Firstly we’ve had three interest rate cuts. Getting finance is a lot cheaper so people are able to borrow more money. “The second issue is around the fact that there are fewer listings, so even if people want to upgrade into a new home, a lot haven’t been able to find one, so it becomes attractive to renovate the one they’re in. “Also if you are looking for a bigger home, it may be better value to renovate your (current) home because of the cost of moving and selling.” Quote of the Week “Firstly we’ve had three interest rate cuts. Getting finance is a lot cheaper so people are able to borrow more money. The second issue is around the fact that there are fewer listings, so even if people want to upgrade into a new home, a lot haven’t been able to find one, so it becomes attractive to renovate the one they’re in.” - REA Group chief economist Nerida Conisbee

Feb 1, 2020

Multi Generations The New Norm

Increasingly, several generations of Australian families are living together under the same roof. Social demographer Mark McCrindle says there are several reasons for the lifestyle choice. “Younger generations are either leaving home later or returning back to the parental home,” he says. “Then on the parents’ side, they’re living longer and sometimes the older parents are moving in with the middle-aged children, creating the three or, in some cases, four generations under the one roof.” The practice of generations Y and Z living with the family for longer periods due to affordability constraints now includes Baby Boomers, who are sharing their household expenses with their adult children to not only save money, but to maintain their lifestyle. McCrindle says fewer than 10% of Australians now move out of their home into retirement homes. Having several generations sharing the running costs of the home creates a win-win situation because each party is paying less than they would if they were running their own rental, he says.

Jan 16, 2020

Listings Drop Puts Pressure On Prices

Home buyers have been active in markets across Australia, making the most of favourable lending conditions by buying up and depleting stock levels of properties for sale. The latest figures from SQM Research show listings nationwide fell 12% in December compared to the same time a year earlier. The stock shortage has inspired a rise in asking prices, with the national average rising by 2.4% for houses and 0.8% for units during December. Data from realestate.com.au shows a surge in buyers searching for properties in many states, with Brisbane recording a 63% jump in searches, NSW 50% and Victoria 36% over the year to December. That trend is set to continue into the early months of 2020, according to analysts and agents, causing more vendors to list their properties for sale. “When people get confident that the market has turned around and they can see the demand there, then the listings pick up,” AMP Capital’s chief economist Shane Oliver says.